The trails meander through the river valley park where the city erected unique benches made from verdant trees felled to create park pathways. At night Paul and his four dogs inhabit a particular bench. They rest their tired legs and pant joyfully, cooling off from the hot humid summer days, during the night.
However, in the winter the dogs huddle against Paul, absorbing each other’s heat. Paul doesn’t have much in his tattered backpack. Only a oversized bottle of water, a bag of dog food, a couple of protein bars, and thin blankets for the dogs. But one night the ice creeps up frosting Paul’s beard. It’s -45 degrees Celsius outside and the homeless shelters are full.
Despite layers of clothing Paul trembles and his teeth chatter; he can’t sleep in this miserable blizzard. He’s terrified the dogs will freeze to death — they’re his family and all he values in the world. He covers them, wrapping them in blankets before spreading the sleeping bag across them all. Their fur is frosted over and he keeps rubbing them with his gloved hands to keep their bodies from stiffening.
Suddenly, a light shines, blinding Paul in the treacherous cold, then his body heats as if he were sitting out on a beach in Mexico on the perfect hot day. The dogs peer up at him from the white sand, wagging their tails. Paul and his dogs have moved on and exist in a place beyond words or woofs. They’ve left cruelty behind.
I’m going to continue with my one of my Tale Weaver prompts with a modern rendition of Red Riding Hood with the main character, Red, who has just met Axel.J. Wolff or ‘Wolff’ in her grandmother’s house. Wolff is house-sitting for grandma Addy who is in Hawaii with Wolff’s Grandpa Reggie. Things were heating up for them at the end, I wonder what will happen when they get to the park?
She shouldn’t have run but that’s what she did. Wolff offered her his hand and invited her to keep him company and she panicked.
“The rest of the food is in the fridge,” she said ignoring Wolff’s outstretched hand. She turned towards Gran Addy’s bedroom door before Wolff could capture her hands again.
He was gorgeous with shamrock green eyes and tanned skin, probably from being out on the golf course but well, who was she to judge. She had had to learn to golf for work herself but instead of tanning her fair skin on the he course, her skinned often burned.
Red was alarmed she didn’t want to resist Wolff. He had gazed at her as if she were prey, looking her up and down as she found herself caught betweeen him and freedom through Gran’s bedroom door. He had licked his lips and stretched his arms above his head.
As if Red, wouldn’t notice his taut muscles and the pleased grin on his face. His teeth showed as he grinned as if Wolff thought she would give into him like weak prey. But Red wasn’t weak. No one had called her that for a long time. Red was strong. She was first in her class at Columbia and the best young associate at her firm.
Just the same, when Wolff asked Red to stay she backed up and tripped over her flats caught on the carpet. Then, getting up before Wolff could help her, she took off out the front door towards the safety of her red Coralla.
As she drove off, Red saw Wolff leaning against her grandmother’s front door, smiling at her. There was no doubt his gaze was predatory.
Thick lust and heat coursed through her veins as she backed up her car trying to force herself to calm down. Wolff waved and Red’s tires squeeled as she took off down the gravel road towards her family’s summer cottage and safety.
When Red walked in the cottage her mom appeared surprised to see her, “Gina? I’m surprised you’re home so early. Your Grandma called and said you were having a wonderful time with Reggie’s Grandson Wolff. I thought you’d be a while,” Anne said raising her eyebrows.
“Um, he’s fine. Wolff appreciated the food.”
Then Red got mad, “You should’ve told me Grandma Addy was in Hawaii with Reggie. Wolff scared the h*ll out of me. I didn’t know what he was doing in Gran’s bedroom.”
“Oh, Gran said she had the biggest bedroom. Reggie and she are gone for three months so she felt Wolff should have the biggest room in her house. She bought some manly bedding and packed away her old trinkets. He’s been so good to your Gran and Reggie.”
“You should have said something. I hate being surpised like that. I almost screamed bloody murder. I don’t need you or Gran to set me up like that. I’m a single girl and I like it.”
Red’s mom chuckled, “Most unattached women say that until they meet a great guy. Axel has his demons behind him and needs to settle down. Well, that’s what your Gran and Reggie said. It was their idea for you to bring him food. I thought it was a great one, ” Anne said winking.
Red stomped her foot, ” I get to choose who I want to date or meet. I mean, he was half naked in Gran’s room. Who does he think he is trying to shut me up before I tell him to get out? He shouldn’t be in there, doesn’t matter what Gran Addy thinks. Doesn’t he have a job and his own place?”
Anne chuckled again, ” He was half naked, eh? I would’ve loved to have seen that. I’ve seen Axel on the beach a few times and that man works out. Such intense green eyes, an Irish background, a hot body, and helpful to his Grandpa, sounds sexy to me. If I was a bit younger, I’d go for him.”
“Mom!” Red said shocked.
“He likes you, you know?”
“Does not. He doesn’t even know me.He just wants what ‘all ‘guys want.”
‘Did he ask you to stay?”
“Yeah, he did. But I panicked. I never panick. I’m cool under pressure. That’s why I’m good at my job,” Red said confused.
“You ran, didn’t you? Took off like Little Red Riding Hood being chased by the big bad ‘Wolff?” Anne said laughing a her joke.
“I did. Not quite like that though. How did you know?”
“You look anxious and I know you well. What did you think was going to happen?” Anne said enjoying teasing her daughter.
“Stop it, mom. I can’t handle a guy like Wolff now. Too hungry, the kind of guy who wants too much. I’ve plenty of options in the city.”
“Yet, you don’t date much,” Anne murmered.
Red stomped her food again, “I’m fine. I’m going to bed. Don’t bother with breakfast for me tomorrow. I’m going for a run in the park when I wake up, a long one.”
Anne chuckled,”I’d be careful if I were you. Axel Wolff likes to run in the park in the mornings too.”
“Well, I’ll go running tonight then. The sun’s up for a few more hours.”
“Red, don’t go. You’re all worked up for no reason and you haven’t had dinner, have you?”
“No, I’m fine. I’ll eat after I’m back.”
Red left the family cottage slamming the back door. She changed into her running clothes in her car and made a beeline for the park a few blocks away. When she was half-way down one paved trail she stopped abruptly.
Wolff was sitting on a park bench in his own running clothes. He had taken his shirt off, and Red could see his fascinating tattoos. She wondered what they were images of and what they meant.
Her eyes were glued to Wolff, wiping the sweat off his body with a towel. For some reason, her mouth was dry. She felt heat flowing through her veins again. It was an overpowering sensation.
Shaking her head, Red noticed she had stopped running entranced by Wolff’s body and shamrock green eyes. He gazed up at her and stared.
Wolff’s lips curled into a half-smile, “Surprised to see you here?”
“What are ‘you’ doing here?” Red asked instead.
“Had to wear off supper. But I’m hungry again. Did you come to help me with that?”
“Not really. But . . . ”
Wolff cut her off, “You do have big eyes, Red. They’re beautiful and so are you. Sit, talk with me.”
Red was ready to run but then Wolff was in front of her as in Gran Addy’s room. He grasped her wrist gently. Red could tell he wasn’t afraid of confrontation. For some reason he made her feel okay with backing down. No other guy did that.
She pulled and tugged but Wolff wouldn’t let her wrist go. She was disgusted with herself for not smacking his amused face.
“You, you just want to eat me up with your big teeth,” she said fumbling to find words.
Wolff laughed, “It’s not my teeth you should be worried about.”
Red tried pulled away from Wolff again. By then, Wolff had guided her to the park bench without her realizing it. Putting on his shirt back on he turned to her. He still grasped her same wrist and hand gently, “So, tell me something Red?”
Red’s eyes dilated, growing larger and bluer. Wolff stroked her cheek with his other hand.
“I had never been summoned to Number 208 [by the park] before; I nervously adjusted my coat . . .” A person could book a pick-up online or by phoning into FedEx but you couldn’t summon a particular delivery person, could you?
“April, it means what I said,” Becky from the warehouse told me on the phone, “I’m not being rude, the lady who lives there wanted you, specifically, at her home.”
The door was open when I arrived. “I’m here,” a frail female voice rasped.
Walking into the house I heard the respirations of a woman on a ventilator. She was all hollows and sallow skin. Her hair was whispy white and thinning. Eyes the color of blue-bells greeted me but they were bloodshot.
The woman grasped a yellow envelope with a trembling hand. She shook the envelope and a key dropped out.
Her shaking fingers held it out, “For me?” I asked.
I took the key staring at it in confusion; it appeared ancient. As I examined it I heard the woman gasp something. I moved closer to her and held her hand attempting to hear her strained voice. She shook her head with a ragged sigh and breathed her last.
“Trees are necessary for our very existence on this earth, they produce the air we breathe. We build houses with them and create many products that we use everyday with them. What personal role do trees have in your life? Do you have a favorite tree in your yard or one that you walk or drive by frequently? Free write for ten minutes exploring the world of trees.”
The park is peaceful silent, as mid-day sun strays,
Walking through foliage, even footsteps —
Can be heard, where branches carve a ceiling cave.
Though the sky is cheerful blue, branches yet,
Make the trails paved, a hollowed place away —
Screaming city lights, and loud conversation met,
With the quiet, the tranquil breath, gifted by trees,
No sadness here, a happy place held dear.
The drifting leaves, paying tole, to dancing wind,
Blowing the rebirth of trees and their seeds far.
Slow lazy walk, furry dog smelling scents, grins.
Curious thing, to see a dog smile, laughing bark.
Nature cradles us, magic trees rekindled.
Hidden we are in treasured lands, our star —
Bright light always near, to show us the path to roam.
Nature’s dreamy pause, returns with us to home.
——- ” A Ottava Rima is a poem written in 8-line octives. Each line is of a 10 or 11 syllable count in the following rhyme:
1. one octive poem. abababcc 2. two octive poem. abababcc, dededeff
3. three octive poem. abababcc, dededeff, ghghghii.”
Thank you to MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting this challenge and a card/picture which is centered around the sun and it’s use as a metaphor in life.
It’s early morning and the sky is tinged with an inky darkness. Out of the east brilliant colour begins to emerge. First the sky lightens, the navy washing out into a paler blue. The sun goddess brings a purplish hue to the sky which then begins to blaze with citrus orange; a red-pink hue completes the spectacular sunset. The goddess knows the sailors will complain about the pink hue; the suspicious lot of them.
She watches the sunrise, in all nature’s artistry, from washed out watercolour to colours aflame in brilliant acrylic. The colours become more pigmented and the sky itself turns cheery sky blue and the brilliance of the sunrise is replaced by the promise of a new day. A soft yellow glow on everything outside, reminding the goddess of the smell of lemons and a distinct feeling of happiness.
She spots her treasured swing in her secret garden. The fall leaves of tangerine orange, blazing gold, and brazen red, match her sunrise well. The goddess steps through the coloured leaves and walks to the swing. It’s warm enough that many flowers are yet blooming and some of the Autumn colours are enhanced by the grassy green of summer, holding on despite a chill arising as winter whispers.
Roses decorate the sun goddess ropes on her swing as she kicks out ageless beautiful shapely legs, then kicks her legs underneath her wodden swing. She keeps her pace gentle, pumping her legs at leisure and watching the sun provide hope to this part of the world; the renewal of light.
The blue sky is awesome and many people are out walking their dogs. It’s early and only the dogs see the goddess swimging. They approach her for a scratch and a hidden treat. Their kisses lap her face as she tries to avoid getting licked on the mouth. The goddess grins when the dogs wagging their tales, return to their owners, sniffing through the gathering of leaves on the sidewalk.
She lingers on the swing longer than she should. But there is a certain peacefulness in the morning hours she needs to make it through the day. She mentally calculates how much time she has, not long; other places in the world are eager to see the sunrise too. Yet in the cool of the morning air the goddess sighs.
Here is an enchanted place ready to see the crystal clearness daylight reveals, unconcealing those who hide in darkness. But in other places, darkness is safer, for in daylight there is no delight but harm as the shadows themselves strive to suck away the light. The sun goddess smiles because the sun always rises, the shadows never win.
Caden wasn’t sure how he arrived at the park; his feet had walked themselves there. He sat on a park bench feeling empty and worthless. In front of him sat an old Chinese stove, but he gave it little thought.
He’d lost Caroline for real this times and Caden didn’t know how to get her back. Lyrics from the song playing in the pub as she walked away from him, were on a continuel loop in his mind; she loved that song. He sighed, begging his mind to forget the painful lyrics.
“She’s imperfect but she tries, she is good but she lies. She is hard on herself, she is broken and won’t ask for help. She is messy but she’s kind, she’s is lonely –most of the time. She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie; she is gone but she used to be mine.”
Caden hadn’t ever felt so low. What did a man do when the woman he thought he’d stay with forever disappeared and wouldn’t talk to him?
No one seemed to know where Caroline was. He had almost cried in front of her Dad saying he only wanted to apologize and win her back. Caroline’s Dad patted Caden on the back saying,”Things will get better soon.”
Caden stared at the odd Chinese Stove wondering what its purpose was. He attempted to distract himself with the stove as the lyrics from that damn song floated back to him:
“If I’m honest I know I would give it all back for a chance to start over and rewrite an ending or two. For the girl that I knew who’ll be reckless just enough, who’ll get hurt but, who learns how to toughen up when she’s bruised . . . she is gone but she used to be mine.”
Caden pressed his hands against his ears, trying to block the words out.
Suddenly, Caroline was standing in front of him, “How did you get here?” He asked her.
She gazed at him, “You look horrible Caden. Did I do that to you?”
He gasped shocked at seeing her, truly there now sitting beside him. Caden couldn’t hold back, he cried into Caroline’s neck as she stroked his hair; he held onto her tightly.
“I thought you would never forgive me,” he said.
“It’s alright,” she crooned to him, “I’m not leaving you ever again.”
I’m sitting cross legged in the middle of a grassy hill at the park on Saturday as I meditate and observe. People walk their dogs and the occasional cat. They walk in couples and families, some complete with strollers of bawling twins. There are those who stroll, those who amble, and those who power walk, their arms swinging absurdly.
Runners zip inbetween the walkers to keep up their pace. Dogs being walked on their leash on the paved trail, happily jump on the runners for a sniff and to say hello with curiousity. A runner does not know if a particular dog is friends or foe. It is easiest for them to keep their distance in the hub-bub of trail traffic. But one runners can’t help but laugh as a furry dog lavishes him with friendly dog kisses.
On the off leash trails I wander now, and dogs run free chasing each other, it’s all a glorious canine game. Cyclists come racing, tearing down the gravel trails on their bikes with bells to warn people of their presence. They don’t appear to realize these gravel and wood chip trails are built for the dogs and their humans.
Go back to the paved trails in the park you cyclists. Some dogs are frightened by cyclists and may lunge at them. Cyclists are too loud (as are the rollerbladers) for many dogs and they could get hurt (along with the cyclist) if cyclists remain in the dogs’ zone of unleashed freedom on the off leash trails.
Children run around back in the grass in the park, playing fantasy and make believe with invisible friends. A playground is full of small children swinging, jumping, and sliding in bliss.Giggles and laughs decorate the air. An entire conversation happens between young Mackenzie and her invisible friend Charlie.
A Mom yells to her toddler, “Come back,” as he nears a volleyball match in session. I watch with interest as the match takes place in an area of sand and I pause to watch the match finish, team blue is victorious!
I sit back on the grass under a tree and watch the clouds slowly moving cotton puffs in the sky. A tired dog approaches me and I sit on lush green grass and pet his baby-soft black fur. I miss this, the closeness of woman and dog. This peace of humanity and animals, in the park, is what I call harmony — as close to it as we can hope for on earth.
I enjoy Sunday mornings because it is the only time I don’t feel stressed. My fiancé Mason and I often take Deme our lab, to the dog park.
Today, Deme has spied ducks walking onto the grass by the lake. ” Deme come,” I say sternly. “Mommy says come here now.” She gives me that look dogs give you when they are going to do what they want even when you tell them ‘No.’
Deme picks up the tiniest duckling in her mouth.
“Down, put the duckling down, Deme.” Mason warns. Deme begins to shake the duckling and play with it. “Deme no! Bad dog.” Mason says in a deep threatening voice.
Then to our amazement there is only a fluff of feathers. I’m not sure how, but our lab has swallowed a duckling, with only a few chomps. Mama duck is furious and chases Deme everywhere.
” Come here, Deme.” I shout to her. She comes quickly, begging me to save her with a whimper. But I am too late, Mama duck bites Deme on the butt, three times.
There is something horrid about Deme eating a precious tiny duckling. But then again, as Darwinian’s would put it, it’s natural selection.
There are certain places a woman avoids in the dark. She might choose a lighted pathway on the sidewalk rather than a dark alley. She also might avoid walking home on the river valley trails late at night. Both are places women are often attacked or are just plain scary to be walking out late in.
Sidney didn’t care too much for her own safety. She often worked late into the evening as a legal assistant. She walked home every night no matter how late it was. She wasn’t afraid of the vagrants who roamed the streets at night and didn’t believe because some guy was walking behind her, he was out to get her. Generally, Sidney might be right in assuming she was safe walking home alone through river valley trails in the dark. She was only fifteen minutes from her apartment.
But there are things out there that are unesplicabley evil. People or creatures who prey upon the innocent and the ignorant. Sidney was both.
She was crossing the street from the sidewalks lit by lamps to the off leash trails in the park. Every now and then she would see a dog and it’s owners and they would wave and pass her by. But as she went deeper onto the gravel trail a strange sense of foreboding overtook her. The hair on Sidney’s nape prickled and her eyes searched the foliage for some form of life.
Suddenly, a large white northern dog took off down the trail nearly knocking her over. He pushed into her and whimpered. In barks and howls he talked to her, nosing her away from the trail and back the way she’d came. But Sidney crooned to the dog petting her and said: ” Oh it’s alright girl. Are you lost? Want to come home with me tonight? Maybe will find your owner on the way?”
The dog put up his ears as if he was listening before his ears went back and a deep growl came from his throat. Sidney backed away but the furry white dog went in front of her. He was trying to protect Sidney. But Sidney only paused a second before shaking her head at the dog and continued her way down the off leash trail. She stared back at the white dog who refused to come with her and was almost at the trails end when someone stepped out a few feet ahead of her in the darkness.
Sidney had never been afraid of the darkness on the trails. But the incident with the dog had made her heart pound loudly against her chest. And as she stared at the person she could barely see infront of her, all the warnings about strangers and dark places came into her mind unbidden.
The person was not moving from the place he stood on the trail. Sidney could tell it was a he from the person’s large stature and how tall he was. She casually reached for her iPhone illuminating the path slightly and ready to call 911 should she need to. “Hello” she ventured “was that your dog that came down the trail. She was a large white one, maybe a husky or some breed like that?”
The stranger walked closer and Sidney held her breath. The light from her phone illuminated the large man in a hoody now so close to her she could smell his cologne. He was what she would consider hot in a different situation. But his eyes were so dark that his pupils seemed too large. He took off his hood and Sidney saw he had short-cropped black hair. He had yet to answer Sidney and she was feeling scared. She was about to run for home when the stranger put a strong hand on her arm and smiled at her.
Sidney blew out a breath and tried to break free of the man’s grip but she couldn’t. She began to struggle and he gripped her other arm too.”Let me go!” She shouted and screamed until she was hoarse. The man only smiled alarmingly at her. Her Iphone fell from her manacled sweaty hand.
” Are you done?” He asked quietly. She shook her head and tried digging her nails into his arm but he didn’t budge. “That wasn’t my dog Sidney” the man said “but it was a good opportunity to go back and take a taxi.” Sidney stood in shock, a tear escaped her eye. “We should get going” he said.
“What, where?” Sidney cried. “How do you know my name?”
He shrugged. “We’re going to my place” he rasped. And before her eyes the man transformed into a giant creature, half eagle and half beast. He scooped Sidney up with his claws and she screamed and cried as they flew through the air and into the ever-deepening night.